PM announces £600m for care homes after ‘unexplained deaths’

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Boris Johnson has announced a further £600m for infection control in care homes after questions over 10,000 "unexplained" deaths.

There has been much uncertainty surrounding the exact number of deaths in care homes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with demands for clarity.

Opening Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, Labour leader Keir Starmer said: "In his speech on Sunday the Prime Minister said we need to rapidly reverse the awful epidemic in our care homes, but earlier this year, and until March 12, the Government's own official advice was, and I'm quoting from it, 'it remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home will become infected'.

"Yesterday's ONS figures show that at least 40% of all deaths from Covid-19 were in care homes. Does the Prime Minister accept that the Government was too slow to protect people in care homes?"

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "No Mr Speaker it wasn't true that the advice said that, and actually we brought the lockdown in care homes ahead of the general lockdown."

He added: "And a huge exercise in testing is going on, a further £600million I can announce today for infection control in care homes, and yes it is absolutely true that the number of casualties has been too high but I can tell the House, as I told [Sir Keir] last week and indeed this week, the number of outbreaks is down and the number of fatalities in care homes is now well down."

Sir Keir asked for the Government's view on the 10,000 "unexplained" excess deaths in care homes in April.

He said: "The ONS records the average number of deaths in care homes each month. The last five years the average for April has been just over 8,000.

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Sir Keir Starmer speaking at the Labour leadership hustings in Glasgow in February. The Labour Leader has pushed the government for clarity on care home deaths.

"This year the number of deaths in care homes for April was a staggering 26,000 – that's three times the average – 18,000 additional deaths this April.

"Using the Government's figures, only 8,000 are recorded as Covid deaths, that leaves 10,000 additional and unexplained care home deaths this April.

"Now I know the Government must have looked into this so can the Prime Minister give us the Government's views on these unexplained deaths?"

Mr Johnson added there "is much more to do but we are making progress" on reducing the pandemic in care homes.

But the Labour leader continued and said: "The Daily Telegraph this week carried the following quote from a cardiologist – 'we discharged known, suspected and unknown cases into care homes which were unprepared with no formal warning that patients were infected, no testing available and no PPE to prevent transmission. We actively ceded this into the very population that as most vulnerable'.

"Does the Prime Minister accept that the cardiologist is right about this?"

Mr Johnson replied: "I have the upmost respect for all our medical professionals who are doing an extraordinary job in very difficult circumstances but what I can tell the House is that actually the number of discharges from hospitals into care homes went down in March and April.

"And we had a system of testing people going into care homes and that testing is now being ramped up."

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